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Family Planning/Reproductive Health Print E-mail

Priority Health Areas / Family Planning/Reproductive Health

Access to quality family planning (FP) and other reproductive health (RH) information and services remains limited in many developing countries. Challenges include insufficient or nonexistent health workers, cadres that are poorly prepared to provide information and services and work environments that discourage undertaking FP/RH tasks. Weak infrastructure and distribution systems complicate access to FP services, especially in the poorest and most rural areas. Government health care outlets are often few and inadequately dispersed, and private-sector services are more likely to be found in areas with higher economic opportunities. Mechanisms for tracking the currency of health workers’ skills as well as for retraining and supportive supervision are often lacking, along with appropriate supplies and equipment to meet the needs of clients. Workplace planning for FP service provision, alignment, development and support is often inadequate, but is essential to address FP/RH needs and is directly linked to improved service delivery.

The Capacity Project's major results areas in FP/RH included Kenya's national FP training plan, comprehensive FP service strengthening in Rwanda, a no-scalpel vasectomy program in Rwanda and a study on bottlenecks to implementing updated FP/RH guidelines.

Lessons learned:

  1. Without addressing the broader human resources for health issues, access to key services such as FP will remain limited or unavailable.
  2. Countries need to align national FP workforce planning with national FP priorities.
  3. Strategic placement of seconded staff within ministries of health can strengthen the national FP training by mobilizing support for the development and implementation of a national FP training plan.
  4. Addressing logistical and financial support may be as important in increasing FP service access as information and counseling.
  5. There is a lack of documented evidence that increasing training materials improves the actual implementation and impact of FP/RH guidelines.

Learn more about the Project’s impact on family planning and other reproductive health programming.

Related resources:

See other areas in Priority Health Areas: HIV/AIDS; Tuberculosis

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